Top 5 Storylines to Watch at the 2021 Atlanta Classic

2021 Atlanta Classic

After two years, the Atlanta Classic is making its 2021 comeback at the McAuley Aquatic Center on Georgia Tech’s campus in Atlanta. With the top-40 fastest swimmers qualifying for the A, B, C, D finals, there will be a lot of live stream racing to watch over the weekend with the aid of SwimAtlanta’s YouTube channel. Among the U.S. national teamers, international elites, NCAA stars, and age-groupers entered to compete this weekend, here are the top five storylines to watch for the 2021 Atlanta Classic.

1. Breakout Swimmer to Watch: Rhyan White

After breaking out at the Mission Viejo stop of the 2021 Pro Swim Series, rising Alabama senior Rhyan White comes in with the fastest 200 back entry time at 2:07.24, which is the fastest time in the U.S. thus far in the 2020-2021 season.

In Mission Viejo, White put up a massive morning personal best of 2:08.71, dropping 4.16s from her former best of 2:12.87, which was also under the Wave II cut. White’s 2:07.24 winning final time ranks third in the world behind Aussie Kaylee McKeown (2:04.46) and Italian Margherita Panziera (2:05.56). Fellow American Kathleen Baker ranks 5th in the world at 2:07.54 from the San Antonio location of the PSS March meet, only behind Aussie Emily Seebohm (2:07.46).

She is also seeded behind Olympian Olivia Smoliga with another recent lifetime best time of 59.66 in the 100 back, which ranks No. 5 in the US and N0. 13 in the world this season. White placed third with her World season top-25 sub-minute swim at PSS Mission Viejo behind Smoliga (59.04) and Baker (59.66). White will also contest in the 100 fly, where she is seeded 6th in Atlanta at 59.42, which is 0.17s under the Wave II cut.

2020-2021 LCM Women 200 Back

View Top 26»

2. Olympic Hopeful to Watch: Gretchen Walsh

On the women’s side, 18-year-old Gretchen Walsh of Nashville, TN will be the sprinter to watch in Atlanta with three top seeds in the 100 fly (57.43), 50 free (24.65), and 100 free (53.74), all Wave II Olympic Trial cuts. In the 2020-2021 U.S. national rankings, Walsh ranks 3rd in the 50 free and 4th in the 100 fly, both Olympic-contending positions. Walsh’s 100 free season best is only a 54.37 from the 2020 U.S. Open, which ranks 9th in the US. Her personal best of 53.74 in was set at the 2019 World Junior Championships, ranking 6th for the Olympic Trials qualifying period, the potential to be good enough for a spot on the Olympic prelims 400 free relay.

Since the pandemic, most of Walsh’s swims have been performed in regional locations, often racing against the clock. Walsh was in Huntsville, AL for the U.S. Open meet and then won the 100 fly by over a second at the 2021 Dynamo Elite Meet in Chamblee, GA. With the Atlanta Classic’s return this year, Walsh will have the opportunity to race against the likes of Smoliga, Denmark’s Julie Meynen, Natalie Hinds, Dakota Luther, Alyssa Marsh, Maxine Parker, and more sprinters.

2020-2021 US LCM Rankings

50 Free 100 Fly
Rank Swimmer Time Rank Swimmer Time
1 Torri Huske 24.44 1 Claire Curzan 56.20
2 Abbey Weitzeil 24.57 2 Torri Huske 56.69
3 Gretchen Walsh 24.65 3 Katie McLaughlin 57.39
4 Simone Manuel 24.70 4* Kate Douglass 57.43
5 Catie DeLoof 24.73 4* Gretchen Walsh 57.43

3. NCAA Rookie Watch: Jake Magahey

As previously mentioned, Jake Magahey swam 1:48.16 with ABSC last month to rank 9th on the Atlanta psych sheets and 7th in the US season rankings. At the same meet, Magahey also put up the 2nd-fastest American 400 free time at 3:49.01, improving to 3rd seed on the psych sheets since his entry times don’t reflect the recent ABSC meet.

In the 800 free, freshman teammate Tommy-Lee Chamblong of France holds the top 800 free seed with his lifetime best of 7:53.59, followed by upperclassman teammate Andrew Abruzzo (7:54.70 seed). However, Chamblong swam 8:02.48 with ABSC, just ahead of Magahey’s season effort of 8:04.52. While the psych sheets show 8:05.00 for Magahey’s entry, he owns a lifetime best of 8:01.64.

The UGA rookie is also entered in the 100 free (49.89 seed, 50.09 season best), 100 fly (59.58), and the 200 fly (2:08.19). At the 2021 NCAA Championships, Magahey won the 500 free in a meet record of 4:07.97, placed 2nd in the 1650 free (14:28.69) and 12th in the 200 free (1:33.07).

4. Age Grouper to Watch: Jack Aikins

SwimAtlanta 18-year-old Jack Aikins, commited to swim for UVA this coming fall, is scheduled to swim six events, including his No.5-seeded entry in the 100 back. At the Huntsville location of the 2020 U.S. Open, Aikins put up a swift 54.59 in the 100 back to dip under the Wave II cut of 55.51. His mid-pandemic effort in the event gave him the opportunity to be added to the 2020-2021 junior national team roster at the start of the new year.

Aikins is currently the No. 5 seed in the 100 back and No. 14 seed in both the 50 free (22.95) and 100 free (50.43). Aikins swam 22.95 at the February LCM Time Trial in Camblee to nab his fourth Trials cut while his 100 free time came from the Huntsville U.S. Open location. The SwimAtlanta teen is also entered to swim in the 200 free (1:53.03), 100 fly (57.39), and 200 IM (2:08.94). At PSS Mission Viejo, Aikins stole his second Wave II cut in the 200 back at 2:00.77, yet opted not to swim the event in Atlanta.

Top 8 Men’s 100 BK Seeds

  1. Ryan Murphy (Cal), 53.11
  2. Daniel Carr (Cal), 53.64
  3. Clark Beach (Florida), 53.95
  4. Bryce Mefford (Cal), 54.34
  5. Jack Aikins (SwimAtlanta), 54.59
  6. Adam Chaney (Florida), 54.96
  7. Destin Lasco (Cal), 55.04
  8. Youssef Said (Athens Bulldog), 55.07

5. Race to Watch: Men’s 200 Free

The top 8 of the men’s 200 free is stacked with current/former NCAA stars, led by top seed Cal alum Andrew Seliskar, owning a Trials qualifying time of 1:45.71 and the top 2020-2021 US time of 1:47.01, registered at PSS San Antonio. Seeded in second is UGA freshman Luca Urlando, representing DART Swimming, coming in with his lifetime best of 1:46.51 from 2019 US Nationals. At the 2021 ABSC Swim with the Dawgs 5 Meet last month, Urlando put up an early LCM season effort of 1:50.27.

Behind him are a trio of Florida Gators: Jordan’s Khader Baqlah (1:46.77 seed, 1:47.70 season), current Gator Kieran Smith (1:47.29 season best), and the Caeleb Dressel (1:47.57 season best). Current NCAA swimmers Trenton Julian of Cal (1:47.57 seed, 1:49.28 season best) and Trey Freeman of Florida (1:47.86 seed, 1:49.66 season best) and USC alum/Venezuelan native Cristian Quintero (1:48.10 seed, 1:49.69 season best) are also included in the top 8 mix.

Current Florida Gator Smith ranks No. 2 in the nation at 1:47.29 from the 2020 U.S. Open while Dressel’s season best of 1:47.57 from PSS Mission Viejo sits in 4th. Another UGA freshman, Jake Magahey, swam 1:48.16 at the ABSC April Meet, which ranks 7th in the US this season and 9th on the psych sheets.

2020-2021 US LCM Rankings — Men’s 200 Free

  1. Andrew Seliskar, 1:47.01
  2. Kieran Smith, 1:47.29
  3. Patrick Callan, 1:47.38
  4. Caeleb Dressel, 1:47.57
  5. Julian Hill, 1:47.58
  6. Carson Foster, 1:48.12
  7. Jake Magahey, 1:48.16
  8. Drew Kibler, 1:48.58

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2 years ago


2 years ago

Julie meynen is from Luxembourg

Reply to  Escalade
2 years ago

Denmark haha! Someone must not have done their research… she’s been around for years!

2 years ago


2 years ago

Interesting that some of the Gator Swim Club is in Indy while others are scheduled for Atlanta. Wonder how that determination was made.

Reply to  Anonymous
2 years ago

Maybe certain international swimmers needed to go to the Pro Series per their delegations?

2 years ago
Ol' Longhorn
2 years ago

Big new storyline will be how will Wilson and Fink answer the MA 100 breast.

Reply to  Ol' Longhorn
2 years ago

I expect their definitive response won’t be til next month. Both are taper swimmers.

About Nick Pecoraro

Nick Pecoraro

Nick has had the passion for swimming since his first dive in the water in middle school, immediately falling for breaststroke. Nick had expanded to IM events in his late teens, helping foster a short, but memorable NCAA Div III swim experience at Calvin University. While working on his B.A. …

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